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Small Claims Courts

Volume 982: debated on Monday 31 March 1980

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asked the Attorney General how many cases were brought in small claims courts in 1979; what was the approximate average charge made by the court; whether any estimate can be made of the court charge as a proportion of the sum recovered; and whether he is satisfied with the working of these courts and with the present limit of their jurisdiction.

In 1978, the latest year for which figures are available, 1,692,211 proceedings were commenced in the county courts, of which 11,842 resulted in judgments following arbitration before a registrar—which is often called the small claims court.A fee is taken on the issue of a county court summons based on the amount claimed; the current fee is 10p for every £1 claimed, subject to a minimum of £2·50 and a maximum of £24. The approximate average fee taken in 1978 was £9·50. No estimate can be given of the average charge made by the court as a proportion of the sum recovered.Following the National Consumer Council report "Simple Justice", proposals are currently under consideration for further improvement and extension of the arrangements for arbitration in county courts.